"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Giambotta Italian Summer Stew: Foodie Friday


Giambotta Italian Vegetable Stew
Giambotta Italian Summer Stew
I was talking to my mother the other day and she said that Uncle Joe brought her some vegetables from his garden. "Marone a mia, so many vegetables, I had to make Giambotta." 

Sometimes you just have to make Giambotta. The name conjures up memories of walking up the stairs to my grandmother's apartment in the summer and smelling everyone's version of Giambotta.

Everyone one who lived in her house, that was divided up into 5 apartments, was from Italy. They all had their special way of making this dish: some heavy with garlic, some all vegetables, some with beans, some with meat. It all depended on what region of Italy you were from, and what vegetables were ripe in your garden. 

Here is my version of Giambotta. I made mine with cannelloni beans in order to make it a complete vegetarian meal. I also make it with sausage because my father's family are sausage manufactures so sausage usually finds it way it every dish on occasion.

This recipe is truly a guide I invite you to discover your own Giambotta with whatever vegetables or leftover meat you have... experiment and enjoy you really can't make a mistake with this dish.


Giambotta: Italian Summer Stew

by Diane Balch

Preparation Time: 30 minutes                Serves: 6 - 8

Ingredients: 

Extra virgin olive oil about 1/2 cup
1 onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 red pepper chopped
1 zucchini chopped
1 eggplant chopped
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
1/8 cup of fresh Italian parsley chopped
1 can with liquid of cannelloni beans 14.5 ounces
1 can with liquid of diced tomatoes 14 ounces or two fresh tomatoes chopped
optional: Chopped Italian sausage spicy is best

Directions:

1) If you are including sausage sauté it in a large skillet and remove it to a large bowl. Pour the white wine over the brown that is left from cooking the sausage and turn it to high. Scrape the brown and reduce the wine until it is syrupy. This is called "deglazing." You get a lot of good flavor from the meat this way. Pour the liquid over the sitting sausage.

2) Heat the skillet on medium high and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil at a time as needed to sauté the vegetables. Cook them in this order hardest to softest, most flavorful to least: onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini, and then the eggplant.

Salt each vegetable as you cook it, and remove it from the skillet (add it to the sausage bowl) so you have room to brown each vegetable. Note on eggplant: the longer thinner ones have less seeds, and it is best not to salt eggplant until it browns or it will give off too much liquid. If you are not using meat now is the time to add the wine and deglaze the pan. Leave the reduced wine in the skillet.

3) After you have cooked all of the vegetable return them to the skillet. Pour in beans, and tomatoes. Stir and cook on low heat. Add basil and parsley last. Taste and then add some salt and pepper. It is nice to let this sit for a hour or two before serving but it is not necessary.

Serve with rustic Italian bread or over polenta for a gluten free alternative.

Dear Readers,
I am unplugged this week and apologize if I do not respond to your comments. 
Happy End of Summer,
Diane
This is a food party please only link up food related posts. Thank you. 

Instructions for Foodie Friday linky:

SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS... or FRIEND ME ON FACEBOOK

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Fruit Recipes: Healthy Eating

berries

This is the most wonderful time of the year for fresh fruit... trees are bursting with these ripe delicious sweet treats from Mother Nature. Enjoy some wonderful fruit recipes that were shared last week on my Foodie Friday Party.


Watermelon Salad
Pan Seared Chicken with Mango Peach Salsa

Cherry Coconut Hot Fudge Sundae
Rustic Stone Fruit Tart
Triple Berry Cobbler



Weekly Meal Plan:


Sunday: Poor Man's Lasagna with Green Salad

Meatless Monday: Frittata with Rustic Italian Bread and Tomato Red Onion Salad

Tuesday: Chickpea Patties with Pita, Tomatoes and Tahini Yogurt Sauces

Wednesday: Hot Dogs and Baked Beans with Sauerkraut


Thursday: Trader Joe's Baby Back Ribs, Corn on the Cob and a Cucumber Salad

Friday: Cheese Raviolis and Green Salad

Saturday: Scallops and Corn Salad

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Indian Spiced Potato Salad: Foodie Friday


Indian Spiced Potato Salad: simplelivingeating.com

Back when I was a vegetarian I cooked a lot of Indian food the seasoning is so satisfying. This potato salad is inspired by a recipe I once had for a warm Indian potato salad. It has a little kick which is a nice change from the standard salad we have had all summer.


Indian Spiced Potato Salad

by Diane Balch

Preparation time: 20 minutes                     Serves: 8 - 10

Ingredients:

2 pounds of cubed Red Bliss or New Potatoes
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 small minced red onion
1/4 cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley

For the dressing:

1/2 cup of mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil 
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (less if you don't want too much spice)
1 teaspoon of salt and some pepper


Directions:

1) Chop potatoes into 1 inch cubes and put them in a large sauce pan. Cover them with cold water and add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or until potatoes can easily be punctured with a fork.

2) While the potatoes are cooking in a large mixing bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients and chop the onions and parsley.

3) When the potatoes are done drain them and put them into the dressing bowl, add the onions and parsley. Mix and dirty mash the potatoes. (Not completely mashed)

4) Check if it has enough salt and is moist enough. If it seems a little dry mix another tablespoon of olive oil into the salad. Serve hot or cold.

 potatoespotato saladIndian potato salad,vegetarian recipegluten free recipeIndian recipe 


Hosted by
Home Maid Simple
and
Simple Living with Diane Balch


Foodie Friday Features: 

From: My Carolina Kitchen


This tart is made of magical layers of tomatoes, cheese with a little shallot and olives...seasonally sensational.

From: Little Kitchen Big Flavor


A noodleless lasagna that will truly use up your squash supply. Healthy and gluten-free.

From: God's Growing Garden


Is it possible a healthy dessert? Well these cupcakes are choke full of zucchini & carrots...delicious.

Off again to the woods... unplugged and enjoying nature. So sorry I will not be able to respond to your comments, but I will enjoy reading them upon my return. 

This is a food party please only link up food related posts. Thank you. 

Instructions for Foodie Friday linky:

SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS... or

 FRIEND ME ON FACEBOOK

1) Copy the Foodie Friday Button's html from this website's sidebar.

2) Paste this html to the html page of the recipe you want to link to Foodie Friday. You can also make a word link or post our button on your sidebar. Please link back.
3) Copy the link to the recipes you want to add to Foodie Friday, not your homepage. You can post up to 3 recipes that you have not shared before.

4) Click on "your next" on this page.

5) Past your link and type in the name of the recipe, not your name.

6) Choose how you want to download the photo.




Thursday, August 23, 2012

Peach Melba: French Fridays with Dorie

peach melba
Peach Melba a.k.a Krusty the Clown

I spent 2 years in “The Opera World” when I was the business manager for a small concert opera company in NYC. Let me assure you, it is “Another World.” 

I would never have seen an entire Wagnerian Ring Cycle, which is an life alternating experience, if I had not been working in this field. Speaking of fields, an odd side note: opera singers are really into baseball. Baseball is just like opera, long stretches where absolutely nothing happens,... and than BAM someone hits a high note and the ball goes flying out of the theatre.

  Peach Melba is much loved in this circle, but so are most desserts... and food in general. I asked an opera singer once why they tended to be quiet large people? He rambled on about the benefits of having extra abdominal fat, something about it putting pressure on the diaphragm which increases one's 
vocal ability... but then he finally confessed, "What can I say we are just very oral, and we hang out with rich people who like to feed us well."

So my family dined like opera singers tonight and gorged ourselves on Peach Melba which, "no one hated." Even the liquored peaches got a thumbs up from all family members. 

I used Chambord because it is such a good cocktail mixer I thought I would get good use out of purchasing it. Question to the Dorista's : Did you remove the lemon rinds and the vanilla bean stick from the cooling liquid? I did because I was afraid the lemon would get bitter... what did you do? Did you eat it all or did you wait until the fat lady sang?  


Note: As a member of French Friday's with Dorie I am not allowed to print the recipe. I invite you to take a look at this wonderful cookbook "Around My French Table" if you are interested in this or any other recipe I review. 









Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where did Cotton Go?: Simple Living in Practice




Source: http://www.outdoorafro.com/2009/11/comes-out-in-the-wash/

I noticed something this summer when my husband came back from a computer show his freebie shirts were made of polyester... my son’s tennis shirts are made of polyester this year. 


Where did cotton go? 

New technologies have enabled clothing manufacturers to make polyester a more wickable (gets perspiration away from your body) product then it used to be, and because it is cheaper to produce than cotton it seems to be more available.

But I don’t like it... do you? 

Polyester just doesn’t feel as good as cotton to me. It definitely doesn’t wash and wear as well. Initially the colors are brighter and more intense, but I find if you put polyester in the dryer it starts to pucker and fray very quickly.

There have been misconceptions that cotton is “totally natural and best for the environment." This belief is not completely true. Cotton is a natural product that comes from a plant, unlike polyester which comes from a petroleum based chemical. But the process of turning both cotton and polyester into fabric requires a lot of water and energy.

There have also been claims that cotton isn’t environmentally friendly because it requires a lot of water to grown. This is not true according to James Pruden Director of Industry and Business Public Relations for Cotton Incorporated, who I spoke to at Blogher. He informed me that cotton doesn’t require anymore water than many other crops, and is actually quite drought resistant. He referred me to the CottonToday website which contains current information about the sustainability of cotton.

James Pruden also told me about a great program that is being supported by many retailers called The Cotton. From Blue to Green. which is collecting old denim and turning it into insulation.

Cotton seems to have many more avenues for reuse than polyester. You can send worn fleece to Patagonia's Common Threads Recycling Program to be recycled, but they are the only outlet I know of who recycle polyester. 

Another argument against cotton is that a lot of pesticides are used to grow it. This is no longer true, because cotton has been genetically modified to resist many insects. Pesticide use is way down.

My verdict: cotton feels better, lasts longer and is more environmentally friendly and recyclable than polyester. I choose cotton. 


How about you? 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Avocados They Aren't Just for Guacamole Anymore!: Healthy Eating

Source photo: http://www.johnson-center.org/blog/entry/149#.UCusHEITvUs
What is up with avocados? They are showing up in ice creams, in baked goods... Alton Brown had a Good Eats episode in which he claimed avocados can be used as an egg substitute in most dishes. Avocados  have become the "Vegan Egg." And why not? They are rich in 

  • Monounsaturated fats which can lower your cholesterol. 
  • Folate which aids in healthy tissue development.
  • Potassium which is essential for all cell functions.
  • Vitamin E an antioxidant which helps rid your body of cancer causing free radicals.
The list goes on... avocados are an incredibly healthy fruit. Below are some new and interesting ways to add more to your diet. Along with the recipes below check out The California Avocado Commission's website for more recipes and lot and lots of info about avocados. 


Avocado Brioche

Avocado Fudgesicle


Chocolate Avocado Fudge or Pudding

Weekly Menu Plan:

Sunday: Sausage with Peppers & Onions

Meatless Monday: Zucchini Tagliatelle

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken with Cafe Style Grated Carrot Salad and Indian Spiced Potato Salad.

Wednesday: Shrimp Corn Salad with Green Beans and Hot Peppers

Thursday: Stuffed Shells and a Green Salad

Friday: Farmer's Market Find

Saturday: Spicy Crab Cakes with Brown Rice and Broccoli

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Simple Black Bean Enchilada: Foodie Friday


Black Bean Enchiladas
Black Bean Enchilada

I love this healthy simple recipe because you can have most of the ingredients in your pantry and throw this meal together in no time. Be creative with your toppings. I say whatever is in the fridge is fair game!

Simple Black Bean Enchilada
by Diane Balch

Prep time: 30 minutes                     Serves: 4 - 6

Ingredients:

12 small tortilla wheat or corn (gluten-free)
2 cans of 15oz of black beans
1 12 oz bottle of Enchilada sauce (I use Trader Joes)
2 tablespoons of salsa (mild or hot)
2 8 oz bags of shredded Cheddar cheese or Mexican Blend
olive oil
salt and peppper
Optional: The juice and zest of one small lime

Optional Toppings:
sour cream
guacamole
Oil cured black olives
Chopped pickled hot peppers
cilantro

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom of a large baking dish with olive oil. 

2) Drain black beans and dirty mash them. Mix them with salt, pepper and the salsa (plus optional: lime juice and zest).

3) Scoop 2 tablespoons of beans into the center of each tortilla. Fold the tortillas over and place them in the baking dish seam side down.  (If you are using corn tortillas cover them with a damp paper towel and microwave them for 1 minute before filling them, so they won't break.) 

4) Pour Enchilada sauce over the tortillas making sure to cover the edges so they won't get crispy. Sprinkle cheese over the torillas and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.

5) Let enchiladas cool for 10 minutes before serving them with your choice of toppings.
 enchiladaMexican recipeblack beans,vegetarian recipe 


Hosted by
Home Maid Simple
and
Simple Living with Diane Balch


Foodie Friday Features: 

From: Simply Sweet'n Savory


I have fond memories of a Pakistan friend of mine mother making these total comfort food fritters. They are addictive.

From: Jam's Corner


This is a hearty healthy flavorful dish that you can make with leftover or store bought rotisserie chicken.

From: The Kitchen is My Playground


If a Cheesecake, a Banana Cream Pie, and a Boston Creme Pie had a baby this would be it.

This is a food party please only link up food related posts. Thank you. 

Instructions for Foodie Friday linky:

SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS... or FRIEND ME ON FACEBOOK

1) Copy the Foodie Friday Button's html from this website's sidebar.

2) Paste this html to the html page of the recipe you want to link to Foodie Friday. You can also make a word link or post our button on your sidebar. Please link back.
3) Copy the link to the recipes you want to add to Foodie Friday, not your homepage. You can post up to 3 recipes that you have not shared before.

4) Click on "your next" on this page.

5) Past your link and type in the name of the recipe, not your name.

6) Choose how you want to download the photo.




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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cafe Style Grated Carrot Salad: French Fridays with Dorie

carrot salad
Cafe Style Grated Carrot Salad 

When I lived in Manhattan I lived on this salad. 

I would pick it up at Dean & Deluca if I was downtown or Zabars if I was uptown. Every gourmet deli sold a version of it. My favorites were the ones that tasted like Dorie's salad. 

Because Dorie's recipe is primarily Dijon mustard the sweetness of the carrots are not overwhelming. When I have had this salad with a sweet dressing I usually can only eat a few bits of it, especially if it contained sweet raisins too.

Speaking of raisins, I thought I had currants on hand, but when I took them down from the cupboard the container said: cranberries. Well, I put 1/2 cup of dried cranberries in the microwave covered in water for 2 minutes and let them sit until I had the dressing and the carrots ready. I added them into the salad and they were wonderful. I like the cranberries more in the salad than the traditional raisins because their tartness counters the sweetness of the carrots. 

My husband couldn't stop eating the salad. My daughter thought there should be more "stuff" in it. My teenage son said, "I don't hate it." which qualifies as a compliment these days. And I enjoyed the flashback memories of being in my 20's and hanging out alone eating a quick meal before I went out clubbing... 



Note: As a member of French Friday's with Dorie I am not allowed to print the recipe. I invite you to take a look at this wonderful cookbook "Around My French Table" if you are interested in this or any other recipe I review. 







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